I felt the cloud thicken. I felt that I had fallen victim to a disease – at the time there so many about which we knew nothing. So the conviction was born inside me that I was to die young. All this is an image, you understand, but I imagined finding myself in the middle of this flowery field, letting the flowers that I had picked fall on the ground to remain there as dangling stems. And now the storm that had once been in my heart now took form in the sky, which had until then been a wonderful, transparent blue. The black clouds, which came winging in concentrated above me. No, it was not raining – I don’t think it was – but flashes of lightning burst forth. A flash of light fell from the sky and struck me. This is the vision I had shortly before my assassination.
My God, how worried you are and how unwilling you are to listen to me. And yet, I need you to hear me. ”
Her reproach was not ill founded: I was indeed not listening to her attentively, but she was wrong to conclude I was distracted by other topics. Something inside me was telling me not to listen to her. What she was saying was certainly interesting but I knew I had to keep my distance from her.
“During my murder, my God, how I struggled. There were several of them in the room. They chased me around the room, they struck me with their daggers. I screamed with pain. I was afraid for my face, they pursued me, they struck my bust then my cheek. I remember thinking: “they must want to get at my throat, yet it was my cheek that their daggers pierced, my mouth; that’s why you see before you this toothless mouth. It was a butchery. There was nothing left of the beautiful, young, much-admired woman of Beaumont la Ronce. Then I felt as if I were falling into a bottomless hole, and yet it was very soft: it was not unpleasant. Everything was soft, the passage down, the atmosphere, but it was darkness. This darkness from which I have never since emerged. Here I remain, but I’m still alive, and I want revenge. Where are my killers? I have searched for them everywhere but nowhere do I find them. Oh woe to them, for I shall kill them as they killed me, without giving myself the time to turn away in repentance. I shall stop them from tasting the fruits of eternal life as they themselves have prevented me from so doing. […] I have come today to proclaim my intentions. Of course I believe in hell yet it is not there that I reside because in my life I have only done good and, I repeat, I am not dead, nor are my murderers. I know that death exists, I have always believed that but I have not yet reached it. I am in another place. No, I am not on this earth, I’m Elsewhere, I do not know where. I search: I stumble about in my search to find the answer.
You ask me if my killers were found and punished on this earth. No, others were arrested and they were punished: they were punished for a crime they did not commit. Since earthly powers have not shown themselves capable of rendering justice, the task falls instead to me.
I repeat, because your question demands it of me: I am no longer on this earth, I am Elsewhere.
I have seen everything from where I stand; this cannot be understood by those that have not been here. I have seen everything: the false testimony, the arrest of the innocent, the way in which justice was subverted, the way everyone lied, the confessions of these innocent people elicited by the judge in what amounted to extortion. I saw how my killers manipulated the process, turning it into a mock trial. My husband adored me, but what could he do? Justice had been pronounced, he had to bow down before it. Yes, he had his suspicions but suspicions were not enough.
My murder was perfectly organized. People seemed curiously both to know and not to know. Yes, my murder caused a big stir. It was very much the talk of the town: everyone was talking about it. Then, strangely, everyone was silent. Shortly after the event, the buzz of discussion could be heard throughout the whole province, then, suddenly, that strange silence descended. I realized that behind my killers stood an immense power that was protecting them. This power had nothing to do with my murder but it was protecting my killers. Should it be named? My lips are sewn shut out of respect although this power is unaware of that fact. Yet its name resonates on every page of history.
I did not originally live in this house, no. I came here later. It was much smaller then than it is now but charming; it was enough for me. The country was lovely. The village then was tiny: barely a few hovels and, at the centre, stood this huge tower where you are now.
When this tower was built, the staircase was the mark – I would say – of fortune, of power. The wider it was and the better built it was, the more powerful and rich the Lord. So it was that this kind of madness – this wide staircase – was built; and it was beautifully built: the highest in the whole province, leading upwards to nowhere but the sky.
My death has left here a great sorrow. For generation after generation, the owners of this house cried; oh for reasons that had nothing to do with me: deaths which came about too young, tragic deaths, diseases, accidents.
And even you: this morning, I see on you a mark of a sadness that you did wear yesterday and that you will not have tomorrow. It’s not that I want to impress upon all who enter this seal of sadness. It’s completely beyond my control. All who live or enter this place, bear this mark.
You ask me what I want, what you can do for me: help me find my killers, help me avenge myself.
I see you are leaving. You will never come back here. The slight mark that you have on the forehead will surely fade very quickly. I am happy for you. But think from time to time about the woman you have briefly met. She was a young, beautiful, happy woman, destined for happiness yet now confined to wandering about in the darkness in search of her murderers, in order that divine justice shall be served where human justice has been corrupted.
She was quite right to see that I had no desire to linger longer. I felt a growing discomfort and soon began to think only of getting away. I think she would have spoken again had I afforded her the chance but I now wanted to avoid hearing it at all costs. As I descended the stairs of the tower, I went through in my mind, floor after floor, everything that did not fit in what she had told me. What was that “elsewhere” of which she spoke, the darkness that surrounded her? She believed that she was still alive as, she was equally convinced, were her killers. Her aspirations were simply to be able to rest peacefully once her mission had been accomplished. What did she mean by ‘rest’? Not a word mentioned about the light that all ghosts seek. Finally, even for those, like Lady Castletown, who have not yet begun their quest to reach the light, none have displayed such sinister intentions as marking all visitors with the seal of sadness. All of these points seemed strangely different from those made by other ghosts. Have I misunderstood? Did I err in my path? And yet I felt sure that I had felt the presence; so present that I had fled.